“Widows, Laziness & the State of Your Flocks” October 26

 

Widows, Laziness & the State of Your Flocks - Paul said the body of Christ should help provide for those who are "really widows." Who are they and what should that look like? How do the government and the church play a part in their care?

Paul said the body of Christ should help provide for those who are “really widows.” Who are they and what should that look like? How do the government and the church play a part in their care?

Also, read about the cost of obedience, what it has cost others, and what Jesus said about the cost of not standing up for the truth.

 

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 37 & 38
Psalm 119.73-80
Proverbs 27.23-27
1 Timothy 5.1-25

 

Widows, Laziness & the State of Your Flocks

 

1 Timothy 5.1-25:

Widows, Families, & Leadership

This chapter gives instructions for the church’s care of widows (vss. 3, 5-7, 9-16), the responsibility for families to care for their own members (vv. 4,8), and continues Paul’s instructions to Timothy about not being “hasty” to put someone in leadership (vss. 22-25).

 

Those Who Are Really Widows

Honor widows who are really widows (v. 3).

We have become an entitlement society. Young people think they are entitled to the latest smart phone or electronic gadget. Former employees believe they are entitled to compensation whether or not they were faithful employees. Irresponsibility is awarded in numerous ways and is the expectation.

There are times when the church, and by default society, should take care of others, but the Bible gives careful instructions for the dispensing of such help.

Laziness is condemned through the Bible. In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul said:

For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (1 Thess. 3.10).

In this passage, Paul gives detailed instructions for the care of widows:

Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man,10 well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work.

11 But refuse the younger widows; for when they have begun to grow wanton against Christ, they desire to marry,12 having condemnation because they have cast off their first faith. 13 And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not. 14 Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully. 15 For some have already turned aside after Satan (vss. 9-15).

One thing for sure … Paul would never have made it in politics!  Continue reading

“True Freedom” September 30

 

true freedom

Like the fool who thinks he’s wise, what we call freedom often leads only to bondage. So what is true freedom?

Also, read about the fear of man. Proverbs tells us it is a trap into which we can easily fall. What is it and how can we be free from it’s grip?

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 51 & 52
Psalm 112.5-10
Proverbs 26.16
Ephesians 2.1-22

 

True Freedom

 

Ephesians 2.1-22:

Freedom or Bondage

 

Like the fool who thinks he’s wise in today’s Proverbs reading, we were once dead while thinking we were alive. We thought we were free when we were in bondage.

1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others (2.1-3).

We look back at Eve and think, “How could she have been so easily deceived?” But what about us, as modern women, we bought the farm when it comes to being deceived!

business woman, overworkedWe decided …
We should be “free” to work just like men.
We should be “free” to have sex just for pleasure with no commitment.
We should be “free” to have a career and a family.
We should be “free” to be attracted to women instead of men.
We should be “free” to get a divorce if we’re not happy.
We should be “free” to not have kids.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying it is sinful for a woman to work or have a career, but I’m talking about the attitude that says we should be free to do whatever we think will make us happy.

We were not only “dead in trespasses and sins,” but blind and deaf and deceived and in bondage when we thought we were alive and educated and enlightened and free!

And for the gentlemen reading this, we women don’t have the market on deception.

computer pornToo many men have bought into the lie that they’re “free” to look at whatever they want on the internet.
That they don’t need to be involved in spiritual things. They can leave that to their wives.
That new toy or a new woman will make them happy.
That divorce is fine and the kids will get used it.

True freedom can only be found “in Christ” and as we discover that we can be free from the guilt and penalty of our sins. “If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (Jn. 8.36). True freedom is the freedom to do what’s right. The self-proclaimed freedom to do whatever we want only leads to bondage.

Praise be to God, that we were once dead, but now are alive. We were once blind, but now we see! We were once slaves to sin, but are now free to be what God has called us to be!

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Isaiah 51 & 52:

What would they think?

 

Chapter 51.12-13:

12 “I, even I, am He who comforts you.
Who are you that you should be afraid
Of a man who will die,
And of the son of a man who will be made like grass?
13 And you forget the LORD your Maker,
Who stretched out the heavens
And laid the foundations of the earth;

Matthew 10 says:

28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

How much time we waste “fearing man”! It’s another kind of bondage into which we can easily fall. Not just fearing what they might do to us physically, but what they think of us, what they might say about us, or how they might sin against us.

“If they find out I’m a Christian, they’ll think I’m a ‘goody-two-shoes’.”
“If I don’t have sex with my boyfriend, he might leave me.”
“If I give in to my wife, what will I tell the guys?”
“If I submit to my husband, he’ll walk all over me.”
“What would they think if they knew about my past?”
“If I don’t lie for my husband, he might lose his job.”

Proverbs 29.25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.”

Do we really want to trust in that which cannot save us? It’s really no different from those Old Testament people who trusted in idols they had carved from a tree trunk or formed with their own hands—gods who are not gods.

Our concerns need to be:  Continue reading

“Laziness, Lions & the Prosperity Doctrine” September 29

 

Laziness, Lions & the Prosperity Doctrine”What do lions have to do with laziness and what is difference between “the prosperity doctrine” and true prosperity from God’s perspective? Also, read about some of the blessings we have when we are “in Christ.”

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 49 & 50
Psalm 112.1-4
Proverbs 26.13-15
Ephesians 1.1-23

 

Laziness, Lions & the Prosperity Doctrine

 

Isaiah 49 & 50:

The Coming Messiah

 

praise

These two chapters continue to talk about the (then) coming Messiah. He would be a man—a human being—born of a woman (49.1) and a light not just to the Jews but to the Gentiles, as well (49.6). Though there would be a time of separation from the nation of Israel, God would not divorce her (50.1). Isaiah also said He would suffer torment at the time of His first advent (50.6-7).

There is an invitation to all who are in darkness to come and trust in the name of the Lord (50.10), as well as, a warning that man made religion will not work (50.11). We can do nothing to save ourselves; all our attempts at being good enough or finding our own way to God (“you who kindle a fire”) are futile.

Men and women have been trying to find their own way to God since the tower of Babel and, probably, even before then. But there is only one Way!

 

Psalm 112.1-4:

Prosperity

 

doctrine of prosperity

Verse 1, “… Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments.”

Psalm 1 expands this thought:

1 Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
    Nor stands in the path of sinners,
    Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;

2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    And in His law he meditates day and night.

3 He shall be like a tree
    Planted by the rivers of water,
    That brings forth its fruit in its season,
    Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

Unfortunately, the message preached in many pulpits is, “just come to Jesus and He will cause everything you do to prosper.” There is an element of truth in that idea, but without qualifying it with the truths found in these verses and understanding what prospering means from God’s perspective, people end up coming to Him as if He is a spiritual vending machine.

It’s the man or woman who fears the Lord, who doesn’t listen to ungodly advice, doesn’t hang around friends and co-workers who are up to no good, especially those who scorn the truths and reality of God, who will prosper. It’s those who delight in the things of God, meditate on those truths, and obey them, who will prosper.

Sadly, many buy into a superficial doctrine of prosperity and happiness, a message that sounds good to our selfish nature, but requires little of us in the way of change or growth. A large percentage of them will walk away from God at some point when it doesn’t deliver, sometimes mad at God when they do.  Continue reading

“God & Satan, Heavenly ‘Battle of the Bands’?” August 5

 

"Satan & God, Heavenly 'Battle of the Bands'?" - The battle is raging and we see evidence of it all around us. Satan wants to steal, kill and destroy all that God loves. But is it really a fair fight?The battle is raging and we see evidence of it all around us. Satan wants to steal, kill and destroy all that God loves. But is it really a fair fight?

Also, read about how “lions” can keep us from moving forward with the plans and purposes God has for us.

 

Today’s Readings:
Job 1 & 2
Psalm 91.7-13
Proverbs 22.13-14
Romans 7.1-25

 

God & Satan, Heavenly “Battle of the Bands”?

 

Job 1 & 2:

Adversary, but Not Equal

 

The book of Job may be one of the least understood books in the Bible. So let’s pray that God will give us fresh insight into this book. Remember “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable …” (2 Tim. 3.16).

The book starts out in “God’s heavenly courtroom” and helps us understand that not everything that happens is the result of sin in a believer’s life. Sometimes God allows something for His holy, just and righteous purposes. There were many such purposes in what was going on here in the book of Job.

This wasn’t some “battle of the bands” between God and Satan. First, even though Satan is God’s adversary, he is not God’s equal! He is a created being who cannot do anything in the life of a believer without God’s permission.

Everything in our lives has been filtered through God’s loving hands and He promises to use it all for our good (Rom. 8.28). But we can believe that only to the degree we know Him, know His character, and understand His love for us.

 

God’s Good Purposes

 

Even when, for His divine purposes, God allows Satan some entrance into a believer’s life, He sets limits on it (Job 1.12, 2.6). 1 Corinthians 10.13 says:

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

God knows what we need in our lives to develop us as believers, but will not allow more than we can handle if we will rely on Him. It’s not about what we can handle in our own strength, but about what He wants to do in and through us. One of His good purposes is, often, to help us learn to rely on Him in a greater way.

Even though Job never knew what went on in heaven, God recorded it in His Word for our benefit (1 Cor. 10.11), to help us understand and trust that God is always in control.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 91.7-13:

Satan and Scripture

 

off cliffThis beautiful psalm pictures God’s care for His children. It’s interesting that the devil quoted verses 11 & 12 during Christ’s temptation in the wilderness (Lk. 4.1-13). You see, the devil knows the Scriptures, too, but twists it to suit his evil purposes. In Luke 4 he misused this passage in an attempt to get Jesus to do something foolish. He tried to get Him to jump off the pinnacle of the temple by saying, in effect, “If God has commanded His angels to take care of You, You can just go ahead and jump!” Continue reading

“Entitlement, Contentment & Hard Work” July 25

 

Entitlement, Contentment & Hard Work - Many people today, including believers, have an entitlement attitude. We want what others have and refuse to be content where God has us. In some cases, we are lazy and not willing to do what is required. Instead, we grumble, complain, and sometimes become bitter and resentful.

Many people today, including believers, have an entitlement attitude. We want what others have and refuse to be content where God has us. In some cases, we are lazy and not willing to do what is required. Instead, we grumble, complain, and sometimes become bitter and resentful.

 

Today’s Readings:
Nehemiah 1 & 2
Psalm 88.11-18
Proverbs 21.25-26
Acts 25.1-27

Entitlement, Contentment & Hard Work

 

Proverbs 21.25-26:

Grumbling, Complaining & Coveting or Faithfully Working & Obeying?

 

“The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor. He covets greedily all day long, but the righteous gives and does not spare.”

These two verses make me think of a story I read about a famous pianist. A man came up to him once and said, “I would give my life to be able to play like that.” The pianist replied, “I did.”

I am not advocating neglecting family or any other God-given priority to seek selfish goals, but so often we want things that others have without being willing to do what it takes to obtain them. In the case of a lazy man, he covets the things that others have worked to obtain, but isn’t willing to do the same.

This is an attitude that is rampant in our society today. Many people, even Christians, have an entitlement attitude, even about spiritual things. Continue reading

“The Cause & Cost of Laziness” June 8

 

laziness

What is laziness and what causes it? Is it our fault when we give in to laziness or is it something else? How and when does laziness show up in your life and mine? In the physical area? With mental pursuits? Or maybe with spiritual things? And what is the cost of laziness?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Kings 3 & 4
Psalm 71.17-24
Proverbs 18.9
John 17.1-26

 

The Cause & Cost of Laziness


Proverbs 18.9:

dusty bible“A lazy person is as bad as someone who destroys things” (NLT).

I googled the word laziness and, not surprisingly, found articles declaring that laziness is a myth and that it’s just critical people who put that label on others.

I, certainly, want to acknowledge that there can be times when excessive fatigue, sadness, and other emotions can rob us of motivation and energy. The result can look a lot like laziness. So we need to be careful when judging other people. But even then, we must call on the strength of God to help us fulfill our responsibilities.

But since God addresses the subject in His Word, we need to be concerned enough to examine ourselves for signs of laziness. So let’s take a closer look.

Wikipedia had this to say:

Laziness is a habit rather than a mental health issue. It may reflect a lack of self-esteem, a lack of positive recognition by others, a lack of discipline stemming from low self-confidence, or a lack of interest in the activity or belief in its efficacy. Laziness may manifest as procrastination or vacillation. Studies of motivation suggest that laziness may be caused by a decreased level of motivation, which in turn can be caused by over-stimulation or excessive impulses or distractions.

I certainly agree that laziness can become a habit. God made us as habitual beings. If we didn’t have the ability to form habits, we would waste a lot of time trying to remember how and when to do a lot of mundane things.

It’s a good thing that we habitually brush our teeth, take a shower, lock the front door without thinking much about it, and know how to get to work in the morning while mentally going over our to-do list. Habits can save us a lot of time and energy.

The problem is … we form a lot of bad habits along with good ones. It’s a bad habit to constantly criticize others, to yell when things don’t go our way, to give others the silent treatment, or to buy everything that catches our eye. It’s also a bad habit to be lazy and avoid every bit of extra work we can.

Scripture tells us that we are to put off the habits that come from our sinful nature and put on new habits that will help us to become more like Christ (Eph. 4.22-24).

 

What about the idea that laziness can be a self-esteem issue?

 

Self-esteem is a big subject, one that I’m not going to spend much time on today, but let me just say that I don’t believe God wants us to focus on all our inadequacies (low self-esteem) or to have a puffed up view of ourselves (high self-esteem). Rather we are to see ourselves as God sees us, with strengths and weakness, creatures made in His image, creatures in constant need of contemplating Christ and praying for His help to become more like His Son, creatures that while fallen are redeemable and capable of growing and changing.

 

What about the idea that  laziness stems from a lack of positive recognition from others?

 

It goes without saying that God has called us to be encouragers. We should build one another up in the faith, but it’s a dangerous habit to be dependent on the encouragement of others. The Bible calls it the “fear of man.”  Continue reading

October 26 “Those who are ‘really’ widows”

happy senior woman portraitPaul said the body of Christ should help provide for those who are “really widows.” Who are they and what should that look like?

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 37 & 38
Psalm 119.73-80
Proverbs 27.23-27
1 Timothy 5.1-25

 

Jeremiah 37 & 38:

Costly faith

Can you imagine being thrown into a dungeon and, eventually, into a well for speaking the truth? There is often a cost involved in following God. Sometimes it’s rejection by our families or friends and sometimes persecution in the work place or some other area of society. Jeremiah certainly suffered as a result of his unswerving faith and willingness to speak the truth.

What about us? We must ask ourselves, are we willing to stand up for the truth—in our families, work places, schools and universities? Or do we cave in when it’s too hard or costly? Continue reading

September 29 “The superficial doctrine of prosperity and happiness” & LINKUP

walk away, back viewSadly, many who buy into the superficial doctrine of prosperity and happiness, will walk away from God at some point when it doesn’t deliver. Sadder still, the reality of God’s love and care for His children and the work of grace through salvation are so much greater and more wonderful than they can imagine!

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 49 & 50
Psalm 112.1-4
Proverbs 26.13-15
Ephesians 1.1-23

 

Isaiah 49 & 50:

The coming Messiah

These two chapters continue to talk about the (then) coming Messiah. He would be a man—a human being—born of a woman (49.1) and a light not just to the Jews but to the Gentiles, as well (49.6). Though there would be a time of separation from the nation of Israel, He would not divorce her (50.1). He would suffer torment at the time of His first advent (50.6-7).

There is an invitation to all who are in darkness to come and trust in the name of the Lord (50.10), as well as, a warning that manmade religion will not work (50.11). We can do nothing to save ourselves; all our attempts at being good enough or finding our own way to God (“you who kindle a fire”) are futile.

Men and women have been trying to find their own way to God since the tower of Babel and, probably, even before then. But there is only one Way. Continue reading

August 5 “Satan and Scripture”

imagesCA012OTT

Unless you read and understand God’s Word for yourself, Satan can twist it and use it against you.

Today’s Readings:
Job 1 & 2
Psalm 91.7-13
Proverbs 22.13-14
Romans 7.1-25

Job 1 & 2:

God’s heavenly courtroom

The book of Job may be one of the least understood books in the Bible. So let’s pray that God will give us fresh insight into this book. Remember “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable …” (2 Tim. 3.16).

courtroom, judge, gavel,

The book starts out in “God’s heavenly courtroom” and helps us understand that not everything that happens is the result of sin in a believer’s life. Sometimes God allows something for His holy, just and righteous purposes. There were many such purposes in what was going on here.

This wasn’t some “battle of the bands” between God and Satan. First, even though Satan is God’s adversary, he is not God’s equal! He is a created being who cannot do anything in the life of a believer without God’s permission.

Everything in our lives has been filtered through God’s loving hands and He promises to use it all for our good (Rom. 8.28). But we can believe that only to the degree we know Him, know His character, and understand His love for us.

Continue reading

July 25 “Your kingdom come or His?”

images[5]

Jesus taught His disciples, and by extension us, to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done.” Do you pray that way? If so, is it sincere or merely words? Whose kingdom are you really committed to, yours of His?

Today’s Readings:
Nehemiah 1 & 2
Psalm 88.11-18
Proverbs 21.25-26
Acts 25.1-27

Nehemiah 1 & 2:

Nehemiah’s cushy job

Nehemiah reminds me of Moses who:

“… refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt” (Heb. 11.24-26).

Nehemiah had a rather cushy job as cupbearer to the king (aside from the fact that if someone tried to poison the king he would drink it first!). But because of his job, he would have been a trusted friend to the king. He lived in the palace with many of its perks and benefits, but it didn’t stop him from grieving for and being concerned about the well-being of his people.

And he wasn’t just concerned, he was willing to do something about the situation—to give up his comfortable position and take a dangerous journey, go to a city that was largely unprotected, and undertake an enormous project.

What if …?

What if God called you to the mission field? Or to quit your job and work for Him full time? Or to accept a job with less financial benefits so you’re available to serve Him more? Would you be willing? Continue reading